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November 28, 2013

5 Reasons to be Thankful for Being a Runner

Written by Dena Evans
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runnerSQRunning is easy to take for granted, especially if the last few months or years have been relatively free from injury.  Even if that has not been the case, Thanksgiving is a great time to take stock of the ways in which running can make a significant difference in our lives.  Which of these makes you thankful for running this holiday?

 

Reason #1 to be thankful for running – health benefits

No exercise is perfect, but running has been found in studies to provide a tremendous number of health benefits, ranging from an efficient way to burn calories and lose weight, increased “healthy” cholesterol readings, decreased risk of breast cancer, improved protection from osteoporosis, help resisting heart disease and many other ailments.  For many runners, an occasional ache and pain will send them to the sports medicine doctor, but as a habit that positively differentiates your health from a sedentary person, running is pretty darn effective.

 

Reason #2 to be thankful for running – stress relief

This could also be captured under health benefits, but for many runners, the chance to “clear the head,” regroup from a stressful day behind or ahead, to do some background thinking about intractable problems or issues can be one of the chief reasons they get out of the house and go each day.  While many time providing an actual physical separation from the whirlwind of a busy and stressful life, running can be a crucial lifeline to quiet time for many and as such an irreplaceable part of the daily or weekly schedule.

 

Reason #3 to be thankful for running – new experiences

Whether on a lonely bike path or trail with only the company of a curious deer or exploring the busy streets of a new city just visited for the first time, running allows us to get out and experience the world around us in a way that is much different than the seat of a bus, car, or in front of the computer screen.  Even in the average and ordinary day, we can observe people and nature in new ways, informing the way we go forward afterward.  Traveling to races near and far also allows runners to explore interesting parts of their city, county, state, and even far away regions of the country and world on the ground level.  The entry fee might be pricey, but the experiences at these local races as well as those farther afield are often priceless.

 

Reason #4 to be thankful for running  - the people

Some runners do go it alone, but for many runners, the social aspect is an essential component of their running experience.  Whether a formal group, a bunch of friends, a particular running buddy with whom you always have great talks, having a running or training partner (even if only on an occasional basis), can provide a great basis for a friendship that often extends beyond the run after a while. Because running is a pursuit with particular challenges and joys, these running friends can often be among those who begin to know you best because of your shared goals and perspectives on health and healthy living.  In addition, many times running can bring together family members who are working toward a shared training goal for fitness, charity or both.  These experiences often provide memories for a lifetime.

 

Reason #5 to be thankful for running – the accessibility

Running has something for almost everyone.  Fast and competitive athletes have outlets to challenge themselves at the highest level, while beginners and recreational runners have countless (and growing ways) to participate in short and long events of every distance and for every interest area.  Put on a pair of shoes (or not), and put one foot in front of the other – that’s it.  As coaches, we are well versed in the nuances of running form, training plans, race strategies, and other minutia, but at the core, running is an activity able to be enjoyed by 1 year olds and 100 year olds alike.  It doesn’t have to look the same, go as fast (or slow), travel the same routes, or manage the same distance for any two individuals.  Your goals are yours alone, and your running, even amongst friends or teammates, is as unique as a snowflake.  At runcoach, our approach in providing individualized plans is an obvious expression of our understanding that each runner is distinctive, and this holiday season, we share our gratitude that running allows for all the distinct personalities we meet to enjoy running equally as much in their own way.

 

 

Last modified on November 29, 1999
Dena Evans

Dena Evans

Dena Evans joined runcoach in July, 2008 and has a wide range of experience working with athletes of all stripes- from youth to veteran division competitors, novice to international caliber athletes.

From 1999-2005, she served on the Stanford Track & Field/ Cross Country staff. Dena earned NCAA Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year honors in 2003 as Stanford won the NCAA Division I Championship. She was named Pac-10 Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2003-04, and West Regional Coach of the Year in 2004.

From 2006-08, she worked with the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, helping to expand the after school fitness programs for elementary school aged girls to Mountain View, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City. She has also served both the Stanford Center on Ethics and the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession as a program coordinator.

Dena graduated from Stanford in 1996.

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